This week sees one of the biggest golf tournaments in the world get underway at the famous Whistling Straits golf course in Wisconsin. Team Europe will travel to the state in defence of the Ryder Cup trophy that they won back in 2018 at Le Golf National in France.

Team Europe won that contest handsomely by 17.5 points to 10.5 points and regained the trophy after the United States won on home soil by a similar 17 points to 11 margin at Hazeltine in 2016.

The unique atmosphere of the Ryder Cup, allied to the fact it is a team competition in the usually insular world of individual games in the world of golf, does make this a very different tournament to one that players usually compete in and the competition has seen its fair share of top players struggling and unlikely heroes too.

Format And Betting

This week’s three-days of competition begins on Friday with the foursomes in the morning followed by the fourball matches in the afternoon. That is then repeated on Saturday before Sunday sees all 12 players on each team battle it out across 12 singles matches for a point apiece.

All contests are played in a matchplay format and with 28 points available to be won, 14.5 points is needed to secure the win. If the contest is a draw, then Europe, as holders, would retain the trophy.

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Let’s now learn a little more about the history of this event, before we preview the teams for the 2021 event, and give you our tips on what we think are the best bets to back on the tournament.

Ryder Cup – History

The biennial golf tournament was the brainchild of English businessman Samuel Ryder, who donated the trophy that bears his name. The first tournament was contested in 1927 and the tournament was originally contested by teams from Great Britain and the United States.

After being initially competitive, the growth of golf in the United States and the incredible pool of talent available to the United States team meant that by the 1960s and 1970s, Team USA was dominating the event and interest in the tournament was foundering as a result.

In 1979, the team was expanded to include the whole of Europe, where golfers like Seve Ballesteros and Bernhard Langer were coming to the fore.

This change heralded a new era in the Ryder Cup and has seen Europe emerge as a real test for the once dominant American team. Since 1979, the tournament has been contested 20 times, Europe winning 11, America 8 and with one event tied, but Team Europe held onto the tournament as holders.

Home teams have dominated the event, with the away team only winning infrequently. Europe have won in America in 2012, 2004,1995 and 1987. The United States have won in Europe in 1981 and 1993.  The only tied tournament came in 1989, when the teams drew 14-14 at The Belfry, although as holders Europe held on to the trophy.

  • Europe have won nine of the last 12 Ryder Cup events stretching back to 1995.
  • The last four Ryder Cup tournaments in the United States have been shared between the teams with two wins apiece.
  • Steve Stricker and Padraig Harrington will both captain their respective teams for the first time, although both have played in the tournament as players.

Ryder Cup 2021 – Teams

The two teams for the tournament are selected through ranking positions, which are then supplemented by a number of captain’s picks for the team.

Team USA
Due to changes made to the Team USA selection process, six players will earn a place on the team through qualifying via the rankings, while six will be selected by the team captain.

Qualifiers

  1. Collin Morikawa
  2. Dustin Johnson
  3. Bryson DeChambeau
  4. Brooks Koepka
  5. Justin Thomas
  6. Patrick Cantlay

Captain’s Picks

  1. Tony Finau
  2. Xander Schauffele
  3. Jordan Spieth
  4. Harris English
  5. Daniel Berger
  6. Scottie Scheffler

Team USA Vice Captains

Each team captain can name five Vice-Captains to help them run the team. Steve Stricker has named Jim Furyk, Zach Johnson, Davis Love III, Phil Mickelson and Fred Couples as his vice captains for the tournament.

Team Europe

The qualification system for Team Europe is a little more complicated than for Team USA, with the top four golfers on the European Points list added to the top five golfers on the World Points list (excluding any that qualify from the former) and then the final three picks are the captain’s picks.

European Points List

  1. Jon Rahm (Esp)
  2. Tommy Fleetwood (Eng)
  3. Tyrell Hatton (Eng)
  4. Bernd Wiesberger (Aut)

World Points List

  1. Rory McIlroy (N.Ire)
  2. Viktor Hovland (Nor)
  3. Paul Casey (Eng)
  4. Matthew Fitzpatrick (Eng)
  5. Lee Westwood (Eng)

Captain’s Picks

  1. Shane Lowry (Ire)
  2. Sergio Garcia (Spa)
  3. Ian Poulter (Eng)

Team Europe Vice Captains

Captain Padraig Harrington has named the following five as his Vice Captains for the tournament, Robert Karlsson (Swe), Luke Donald (Eng), Martin Kaymer (Ger), Graeme McDowell (N.Ire) and Henrik Stenson (Swe).

Youth Versus Experience

What is interesting when comparing the two teams is that Team Europe is a much more experienced team than their United States counterparts.

Team USA’s oldest player is Dustin Johnson aged 37 and he has played in the most Ryder Cup matches of any of his team mates with four. Team USA also have four players aged over 30 (Harris English and Tony Finau at 32, Brooks Koepka at 31 and the aforementioned Johnson).

In contrast, Team Europe has a team that has eight players aged 30 or over and there are four players in the team aged 40 or over. The oldest player is Lee Westwood at 48, playing in his tenth Ryder Cup tournament. He will be the oldest player to represent a European team since Christy O’Connor Senior in 1973.

In terms of quality, Team USA’s lowest ranked player in the world rankings is 21st ranked Scottie Scheffler. Team Europe has just four players currently ranked better than Scheffler in their team (Rahm, Hatton, McIlroy and Hovland).

Eight of the United States 12-man team are ranked inside the top ten of the world rankings (Morikawa, Johnson, DeChambeau, Koepka, Thomas, Cantlay, Finau and Schauffele, while Harris English is ranked 11th and Jordan Spieth 13th).

The lowest ranked player on either team is Austrian Bernd Wiesberger who has a World Ranking of 63.

The United States team has six rookies in the tournament (Morikawa, Cantlay, Schauffele, English, Berger and Scheffler), while Team Europe has just three rookies on its team (Wiesberger, Hovland and Lowry).

Wiesberger and Hovland will be the first Austrian and Norwegian players to represent their country in Ryder Cup history.

Ryder Cup Prediction And Tips

If Team Europe are going to retain the trophy and win the event, they need to have a strong opening two days of the tournament, before the American team rallies in the individual event.

As such, my feeling is if Europe don’t have at least a four-point advantage heading into the singles on Sunday (10-6 or better), then the trophy is going to be heading back to the United States.

There have been exceptions to that rule, the Miracle and Medinah being one where Europe overcame an American lead on the final day to clinch an incredible win, but in general, the American team tends to do much better on the final day of singles matchplay action.

I am not sure that this European team will open up enough of a gap over Team USA on the first two days in order to secure the win, so I am going to back Team USA to regain the trophy on Sunday by a relatively narrow scoreline 15.5 to 12.5 points.

You can back the USA to win 15.5 to 12.5 at 9/1 with bet365 Sport, while Team USA are 8/15 to win the tournament outright (with Europe 15/8 and the tie a 12/1 shot).

The Top Points scorer for each team is always an interesting market and looking at the odds, I’d suggest that Jordan Spieth at 13/2 for Team USA is a smart pick, while for Europe, Tommy Fleetwood has an excellent Ryder Cup record and at 17/2 looks a smart bet.

*All odds shown were correct with bet365 Sport as of 2pm on Monday 20th September 2021.